Archive for Monday, January 12, 2009

Laura Linney visits Lipton’s ’Studio’

January 12, 2009

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Laura Linney, acclaimed actress of stage, screen and television, appears with James Lipton on “Inside the Actors Studio” (6 p.m., Bravo). She has received an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Abigail Adams in the HBO miniseries “John Adams” and has been nominated for Academy Awards for her performances in “You Can Count on Me,” “Kinsey” and “The Savages.”

While Linney’s performance in “Adams” was certainly admirable, I would hate to see her turn exclusively to playing noble women in period costume. She’s just too good at portraying contemporary characters, girl-next-door types who harbor darker complexities. Her turn in “The Savages” as an unpublished playwright consoling herself in a bleak adulterous affair was one of the best and most memorable performances in recent years. Linney’s many TV roles include her breakout turn as Mary Ann Singleton in the 1993 miniseries “Tales of the City” and six episodes of “Frasier” in 2003-2004.

• How do you stage a dress rehearsal for war? As meticulously as possible. “Full Battle Rattle” (8 p.m., National Geographic) documents a training center in the Mohave Desert where the Army has created a fake Iraqi village where soldiers and specialists practice military assaults and medical evacuations, hostage negotiations, roadside bomb detonations, etc., to prepare recruits for the real thing. “Rattle” includes interviews with soldiers engaged in these war games as well as “civilians,” many of whom are played by real Iraqi exiles who left a war zone only to pretend to be trapped in a make-believe battleground.

• San Francisco has long been stereotyped as a city of hippies, free love and the counterculture, but the City by the Bay has a long military history, explored on “Cities of the Underground” (8 p.m., History). The city of hills and cable cars was once the home to the nation’s biggest ammunitions depot that even stored nuclear weapons. Alcatraz Island is the home to a buried Civil War-era fortification. “Underground” also plumbs the depths of tunnels used for human trafficking located beneath the tourist-friendly streets of San Francisco’s Chinatown district.

• Bear Grylls travels to Belize, and “Man vs. Wild” (9 p.m., Discovery) moves to Monday nights as the nature series embarks on eight new episodes.

• Tony’s story becomes clearer (for now) on hours three and four of “24” (7 p.m., Fox). Look for a split-screen confrontation between Chloe and Louise (newcomer Janeane Garofalo), dueling computer nerds who bring a quirky neurosis to this entertaining macho comic book.

Tonight’s other highlights

• The competition continues on “Superstars of Dance” (7 p.m., NBC).

• Amy and Ben come to a conclusion about their marriage on “Secret Life of the American Teenager” (7 p.m., Family).

• The survey history “The Story of India” (PBS, check local listings) continues with a look at spice routes from the time of the Roman Empire (8 p.m.) and India’s Golden Age (9 p.m.) from the years 300 to 1000, when math, science and culture flourished.

• Technology unlocks the memories of a blood-drenched amnesiac on “CSI: Miami” (9 p.m., CBS).

• “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” (9 p.m., Travel) samples the culture and cuisine of Venice.

Cult choice

Ron Perlman stars as the horned hero in the 2004 comic-book adaptation “Hellboy” (8 p.m., FX).

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